VICTORIA - The government of British Columbia continues to promote breastfeeding as the start of lifelong health for mother and baby, proclaiming Oct. 1 to 7 as World Breastfeeding Week.
This year marks the 21st celebration of the week, with the theme "The Road to Lifelong Health Begins with Breastfeeding".
Beginning breastfeeding within the first half-hour of a baby's life, exclusively breastfeeding for six months, and continued breastfeeding with other foods for two years and beyond, provides the best nutrition for babies, and has far-reaching health benefits for infants and mothers.
Research shows breastfeeding affects the health of babies throughout their lives, lowering the risk of ear infections, pneumonia, allergies, asthma, diabetes and some cancers. Mothers who breastfeed have reduced risk of developing ovarian and breast cancers, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, Minister of Health -
"There are many benefits to breastfeeding for mother and baby; including lower risks of asthma, ear infections, allergies, diabetes and some cancers in children; as well as cardiovascular and ovarian cancers in mothers."
"This year marks the 21st annual celebration of breastfeeding week in B.C. and I encourage all new parents to breastfeed if possible, and to continue for as long as mother and baby want."
Kim Williams, executive director, Perinatal Services BC -
"Breastfeeding contributes to improved health outcomes for infants, children, and women who breastfeed. Research has provided compelling evidence on the benefits of breastfeeding, such as reducing the risk of disease for mothers and babies, enhancing social and emotional development, and providing economic benefits for mothers, families and the health-care system."
"World Breastfeeding Week is an important opportunity in B.C. to bring awareness to this major population health issue, to inform the public about the benefits and to encourage a shift in attitudes to support breastfeeding."
- British Columbia has the highest rate of breastfeeding initiation in the country at 97 per cent. However, only 19 per cent of mothers continue exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months.
- B.C.'s Human Rights Code protects a mother's right to breastfeed on the job, or anywhere generally open to the public (pool, library, restaurant, etc.) It is discriminatory to ask a breastfeeding mother to cover up or breastfeed somewhere else.
For more information on World Breastfeeding Week, please visit: http://www.bcbabyfriendly.ca/WBW.html
Watch this video from Healthy Families BC, featuring breastfeeding families in B.C., and why they decided to breastfeed, on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FSbr6OPk_E
The annual Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge is on Sept. 29 at 11 a.m. To learn more about the challenge, and to find a site in your community, visit: www.babyfriendly.ca
The Best Chance web site is a resource for expectant parents and parents of children from birth to 36 months, with information, videos and interactive tools: www.BestChance.gov.bc.ca
Perinatal Services BC has a health promotion guideline on breastfeeding healthy term infants at: http://ow.ly/e3ePB
Information about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in B.C., which helps hospitals and public health centres promote and support breastfeeding, is available at: www.bcbabyfriendly.ca
Healthy Families BC has more tips and advice on healthy eating, lifestyles and communities at: www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)